Myths about Majors
The best way to find out about a major is to take courses in it.
Taking courses in a variety of areas just might help you discover an interest you never knew you had. But using only this approach can put you behind. So be smart about which exploration courses you take, and try to find courses that will also move you toward graduation.
Hiram students in all majors are required to complete a Core Curriculum – a set of classes from different academic disciplines that focus on different ways of learning. Find ways to explore possible majors when selecting your Core Curriculum classes. One way to narrow your interests is to use a vocational assessment first to identify majors and careers that you want to explore. Visit the Career Center website to learn about FOCUS.
Once you've narrowed your interests down to a few, talk to your advisor about the best way to explore them.
I should just get my requirements out of the way.
You might be tempted to get "required" courses out of the way during your first few semesters, but it's also important for you to be exposed to courses in majors you want to explore. It will help you learn more about the majors you are considering.
Some departments allow students to "double count" their Core Curriculum and major requirements. Talk to your advisor to plan a schedule that balances some courses from the core curriculum with courses in majors you want to explore.
Picking a major and a career are the same thing.
Many careers are not related to a specific major; they draw on all of the transferable skills from a liberal arts education. For example, a student who majors in psychology doesn't have to be a psychologist; he or she can use the skills developed in college to work in fields such as human resources, business, research, or education.
You may also have a career in mind. But there are probably several ways to get there. Research online on the Career Center website, shadow professionals during your breaks, and network with family, friends, and Hiram alums to learn how to prepare for the career that interests you. You may be surprised!
Students planning to attend graduate should also be aware that there's no "one size fits all" undergraduate major for certain graduate programs, like law and medicine. Talk to your advisor about the best major for you to pursue as an undergrad – it may not be the most obvious choice.
Choosing one major means giving up all other interests.
Students who plan effectively can major in two areas if more than one major is appealing. Hiram also offers eight different minors. You can follow up on your interests in grad school or by taking elective courses in areas that interest you without completing a full minor or second major.
Declaring a major doesn't necessarily lock you in for your college career. You can always change your mind.
My major will determine the rest of my life
It's crazy to try to plan the rest of your life while still in college! The most important thing to do as an undergraduate is to develop transferrable skills (writing, speaking, critical thinking, computer literacy, problem solving, team building) so that you will be prepared for changes in your life and in the world.
As technology evolves, new types of jobs are emerging, so in 10 years, you may find yourself in a job that doesn't even exist now. You may also find yourself going in a different direction as you move up the career ladder.
People continue to grow and change so your interests may evolve. You might decide you have enough experience to open your own business or that you are more skilled at one area of your career field than another. After a few years, the importance of your college majors starts to fade.
Based on material written by Michael J. Leonard, Penn State Division of Undergraduate Studies, and used with permission.